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Official Review by Dennis Morrell, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
20 years ago, this was the hottest game in town. Weeknight games were always packed, the franchise, playing in the Colonial / United Hockey League, were the toast of the league with three Championships in a five-year span.
Then ownership issues led to a series of challenges which ended up leaving the franchise in a troubled league which merged with surviving the now defunct Central Hockey League (CHL) teams and eventually put them with teams in the ECHL.
Games here over the last 20 years have fluctuated but today it seems there is a rebound. Never has the quality of hockey been better and the club seems to apply some creativity with a unique arena space to make the iWireless Center a satisfying destination to watch minor pro hockey.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Pepsi products are sold here and you can get a bottled soda for $4 or fountain soda for $3.75 and $6 for a large with free refills all night. Bottled water is $3.75 and hot cocoa and coffee are $1.25. For beer, Budweiser products are $7 for a large draft. Bottled domestic beer is $6.25.
Entrees are plentiful with a cheeseburger for $6 where you can add fries with cheese for another $1.50. a Jumbo hot dog is $4.25 and a bratwurst is $4.50. For kiddos, a Taste Club Kids Meal for $5.50 includes a hot dog, french fries and small soda.
At the Section 106 Grill you can get a chili dog with cheese, onion and chips OR salad with chicken for just $5.
Snacks include a pretzel for $3.75, add a cup of cheese for another $1. Popcorn comes in two sizes, small and large and are $4 and $5 respectively.
The quality however overall is not up to par.
The arena has been there for over 20 years and it has advanced through the years making subtle changes to modernize and keep being meaningful in the Quad Cities entertainment scene.
The club used to sellout the 12,000+ capacity, in 2015-16, the Mallards drew 4,369, good for 14th in the 28-team ECHL. So far in the 2016-17 season, the club has drawn an average of 2,908, good for 19th in the 27-team league.
The venue is typical of the type built during the mid-1990s where the small footprint and desire to be resourceful in building expenses led to a smaller seating bowl. Because of this, there are several clever elements applied which you will enjoy.
First, the openness of the area above the ice where there is no center-hung scoreboard. The difference this makes as compared to a typical minor league rink is dramatic. The video board takes up space as the scoreboard along the west wall, right above the end suites.
Now to the end suite seats which are the hidden gem of this arena. Currently, these are only available for parties of 12 or more. Comfortable seating areas with personal monitors are in the suites, easy access to restrooms on the second level and that view and sound experience are what you get. Wow, fantastic.
At $25 each, they provide a view from right over the end glass so you not only are in close proximity to the action, but you can hear absolutely everything. You get used to the net in front of you and these are magnificent and a great experience.
In the corners at this end, there are high tables and chairs which overlook the rink, right above the glass with no netting obstruction in front of you. This is known as The Drake Club, a members-only area.
Group bookings can also be made at The Nest, just below the scoreboard and the end suites, lots of room for standing, walking around and right on the glass where the Mallards defend twice.
The speaker system is solid and the volume is not so loud that it is a distraction. The activities between periods and during stoppages are engaging and enjoyable to witness and participate in, even though some are what you see everywhere.
Seats are comfortable and provide great sight lines. When crowds are small, curtains are dropped to section off the upper level. It seems there could be a better way to dress that up than to just have the curtain bottoms ruffled up on top of the seats. It is a subtle appearance, but one that would not take much time to better apply when crowds are lighter than normal.
In the heart of downtown Moline and right across the street from the John Deere Pavilion, it is close to a few places to eat and not a far drive from those taking a little more time to get to nearby.
Just east and south of the arena is Bent River Brewing, a great spot to go before or after the game, and near the John Deere Pavilion is Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, another good spot with a little more upscale setting.
A loyal and engaging bunch, this place used to register sellouts for weeknight games during their heyday in the late 90s. The Mallards endured changes over the years to logos, colors and uniforms and they are on display by the fans coming to enjoy the games. You will even see some Quad City Flames jerseys from the short period when the AHL played here.
The best way to get to the arena is by car even though there is a bus terminal right across the street from the arena. You can park in a lot just west of the arenas edge for just $5. A parking garage to the west is a good option if you want to avoid any rain or snow. The garage and the arena are connected by a second level skywalk that is completely enclosed.
Outside of the food, it is a pretty good place to see a game, particularly with those suite seats on the west end, a magnificent way to see the game entirely due to the unique perspective of view and sound.
Regular seats start at $10 for the high east end and last two rows around the remainder of the upper bowl and increase to $30 for the first two rows along the glass. I recommend a $10 ticket in the first row of section 206 which gives you a view of where the home team shoots twice, a great view of both benches and access to the concourse where the main bar operates.
SUITE SEATS AT THE WEST END - I roamed the arena for different vantage points and this one behind the goal, under the scoreboard is a hidden gem. At this time, they do not sell those as single seats, but why not sell them as singles at a $30 price day of game, just to generate extra revenue for a seat that would otherwise go unsold. These seats are like no other.
MERCHANDISE - good stuff, great variety, but $135 for a pro jersey? Yikes! Game pucks are $10 and souvenir pucks less than that. Hats and t-shirt are fairly priced.
The small arena footprint has made for a unique view at the west end of the rink, get some time in those end suite seats, even if for just a few minutes. Hopefully the club will open those up for single seat sales or maybe make an exception for you. The club puts on a good show, even if the food is not necessarily part of that good show. The people who manage game day are wonderful, welcoming and worth engaging. The open area above center ice will open up the building in ways those rinks with center-hung scoreboards cannot. Enjoy your visit, it is well worth it.
Member Review by ColoNick on Apr 13, 2013
The Quad City Mallards are a Central Hockey League (CHL) team that makes their home in the i wireless Center located in Moline, Illinois. They are named after the first version of the Mallards who played in the United Hockey League from 1995 to 2007.
Fans can thank John Deere for the i wireless Center. As part of revitalization efforts started in the 1990s, John Deere demolished its vacant riverfront factories and donated the land to the city of Moline. This area became the John Deere Commons, a collection of a hotel, restaurants, the arena and the John Deere Pavilion, as well as a museum on the agricultural history of the Midwest. Some 400,000 people visit the Commons every year, which has in turn energized the entire Moline downtown.
1413 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265
320 16th St
Moline, IL 61265
1415 River Dr
Moline, IL 61265